Wallabies utility back James O’Connor could miss out on playing South Africa because of more drunken antics.
Rugby365 reports that O’Connor wasn’t allowed on a flight from Perth to Bali, just hours after the Wallabies beat the Pumas, because he was too drunk.
The Australian media reported that the Wallaby wing, O’Connor, was ‘escorted’ from the Perth airport just hours after last Saturday’s 14-13 Test win over Argentina.
The Australian Rugby Union has not commented on the matter, but the media claims this may just be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
The 44-Test wing was not allowed to board his scheduled flight and was escorted from the terminal by Australian Federal Police officers.
O’Connor was travelling to Bali with his girlfriend on a 05.00 flight and has admitted to the ARU he was involved in a “heated dispute” with airline staff over seating arrangements.
“The AFP can confirm it spoke to a 23-year-old man at Perth International Airport in the early hours of the September 15 [Sunday],” an AFP spokesman said.
“It is alleged the man was intoxicated.
“The airline the man was booked to travel with made a decision not to allow him to board the aircraft.
“The AFP subsequently escorted the man from the terminal.”
According to reports the ARU launched an investigation last Sunday, but were satisfied with O’Connor’s version of events relayed from Bali, which stated a dispute over seating arrangements at the gate led to O’Connor and his girlfriend being taken back through customs to re-book seats on a later flight.
He denied being drunk and there was no mention of the AFP.
O’Connor’s presence on the two-week trip to South Africa and Argentina will now come under scrutiny in major doubt following a string of off-field incidents, and the airport matter could also threaten an impending deal with the Western Force, which was due to be finalised this week.
O’Connor was let go by the Melbourne Rebels in July – with attitude cited as one of the reasons – and a return to his first franchise, the Force, is understood to be conditional on the 23-year-old agreeing to strict behavioural standards.
If the deal with the Force collapses, O’Connor is likely to be left without an Australian Super Rugby franchise for next season, with all others not interested.
He may have to take up an offer overseas.
O’Connor’s airport incident comes just weeks after he pledged to clean up his act following a series of off-field disciplinary issues.
In 2011, O’Connor was suspended for a Test after sleeping through the World Cup squad announcement and a few months later was involved in a fight in Paris with Wallaby teammates Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper.
Recently, O’Connor was again in hot water during the British and Irish Lions tour in June when he and Beale were photographed at Hungry Jacks at 04.00, just a few days out from the second Test in Melbourne.
Along with missing a bus to training and a final Wallaby team meeting, O’Connor’s behaviour infuriated senior Wallabies, some of whom spoke out against him.
Sources: The Daily Telegraph & Sydney Morning Herald